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Forgiveness – Who have you forgiven this year and what was the journey like that brought you to forgive them?

I have to admit, when I first saw this prompt, my mind immediately got stuck on the song from “Just Friends.”  “Daddy, we’re down!”

Seriously, though…after I read through today’s prompt, I spent some time reading posts from other reverb participants.  It’s amazing to see how hard we are on ourselves.  Almost to a person, each post was about forgiving themselves.

I’m no different.  I find that it’s an ongoing process.  Nobody is harder on me than I am on myself.  My boss has said that she can’t come down on me if we lose a client or if I make a mistake.  She knows that I will beat myself up plenty.

This year has been focused on family.  We’ve been through a lot this year, and along with the grief, we’ve had some really wonderful times.  My brother got married in September, and with the wedding came a longed for reunion.  He had distanced himself from the rest of our family for almost ten years.  My mother had stubbornly kept the lines of communication open, but the rest of us hadn’t seen him for a very long time.

With my brother back in the fold, I have spent time thinking about my own relationships.  I know how hard it was on my mother, not having her son involved in our lives on a more concrete basis.  I have wondered and worried if my own father felt that way about me.  I’ve spent a lot of time feeling sort of guilty for not reopening that door and working on a relationship with him.

My father gave up custody to me when I was about three years old.  At that time, I got a new name and a new daddy.  I didn’t see my father again until I was a junior in high school.  By then, I was at that age when you start to look at the bigger picture.  What would my life be like with my own father in my life?

We built a tenuous relationship that lasted just over three years.  By the time I was a freshman in college, I knew it ALL.  I was going to dictate exactly how our relationship would go, and when he called me out, I didn’t like it.  I cut him out of my life as ruthlessly as he’d cut me out of his.

Years went by.  I got married, had kids.  Suddenly, I started wondering if I shouldn’t reach out.  Something always held me back, and I never did.  Feelings of guilt and embarrassment over my immaturity were most likely the biggest factors staying my hand from picking up the phone or writing.

As my brother went on with his life, keeping our family at a distance, I could see what it was doing to my mom and I knew how I felt.  It was as if a piece were always missing.  My mother never let him go.  This past weekend, as we celebrated his marriage and were surrounded by all of our family in my parents’ home, I saw how happy my mom was.  And, I forgave myself.  I realized that, as a parent, you don’t give up on your kids.  Ever.  I know that I had a dad in my step-father.  He was there for all of the events in my life, big and small.  My father never was.

I’m not hiding.  I’m listed in the phone book and I’ve certainly got an easy to find profile online.  I’m here.  My father doesn’t choose to connect, so I no longer feel that I need to harbor feelings of guilt for not pursuing him.  That hole in my life that I’m supposed to feel is really not so big after all.  It’s been filled in with the love of the people who stuck with me.

For now, I have other things to work on forgiving myself for.

In the month of December, I am participating in reverb11.  It is a chance to look back and reflect upon the year just passed, and to look forward to 2012.  Each day, a prompt is issued, and the reverb11 community interprets the prompt in accordance with their own experience.  Join us, won’t you?